Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy and Joy!
In my quiet time this morning I read Nehemiah chapter 12. Verse 43 jumped out at me: “And on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar.”
The reason for such exuberant joy is that it marked the final stage in the restoration of Jerusalem after the exile. The people had rebuilt the temple, rededicated themselves to the Lord and now, completed the wall. The work was done and the rejoicing was so great that it was heard a long way from Jerusalem. The joy they expressed appears five times, in either its verb or noun form. They were ecstatic that the work was done!
This verse resonated with me so strongly because of the joy I have after my worship experiences yesterday. My day began with worship at our Grand Rapids campus. It’s the first time I’ve been able to get there since the campus launched on Easter Sunday. As Pastor Jordan led the worship and Pastor Toran preached the message, joy filled my heart. Toran was in his element, starting the sermon with a song in a way that only Toran can do. As the congregation laughed and even joined in, I chuckled and got the sense that the establishment aspect of the work was done.
As soon as the service was through I headed back to Holland for our Central Connect lunch with Pastor Travis and Pastor Melinda. Over one hundred people were present in our now refurbished multi-purpose room. Wibke, my wife, and I were thrilled to host people at our table and it was so encouraging to meet so many people who the Lord is leading to connect with our church.
We hosted a parent dedication service where twenty children were dedicated. Pastor Mike tells me that this is the largest dedication service Central has ever held. Lots of folks also told me how blessed and challenged they were by Pastor Micah’s Water’s Edge Sunday message yesterday.
If that wasn’t enough, both Pastor Jose in our Spanish campus and Pastor Sandi in our Indonesian campus baptized people yesterday!
Yesterday was a great day. Five reasons to celebrate to match the fivefold joy of Nehemiah 12:43. Some may, of course, find receiving such joy from the start of a campus, people connecting to our church, a local mission challenge being unveiled, children being dedicated and people going public with their faith a little extreme.
Those who know me know that I’m not prone to many ups and downs. I don’t get too excited when things are going well and I don’t get too disheartened when the going is tough. Yesterday was different. At the end of my day yesterday, I was thrilled by what God was doing. In all of these things, apart from some small tasks, my job was to stand alongside and cheer on those folks God has called me to stand alongside. Everything that happened yesterday was a result of hard work and lots of sacrifice on the parts of so many people. Our Grand Rapids campus, for example, would not be possible without the hard work and sacrifice of our faith family.
I think that’s what blessed me so much. It’s being part of a team where both the vision and mission are shared and the necessary sacrifice widely accepted. This weekend I get to share a little more on the fruit of the last year. We have a lot to celebrate!
I hope you can join us Sunday morning for what will be an inspirational morning. Also, don’t miss Sunday afternoon for our Congregational Meeting at 6 PM. You can see more about these events and more on our events page at centralwesleyan.org/events.